Thursday, 1 October 2009

The Twin Foxes

Today in Britain poaching is considered to be nothing much more than a petty crime,the argument being that those who have land enough for game can afford to lose a few pheasants.

But in Victorian and Early Twentieth Century times,when most of the local magistrates were also the landowners,things were considerably different.Indeed in even earlier times it is recorded that poachers were transported to Australia for the offence of taking a pheasant,never to see their loved ones again.

This offence was turned into a fine art by two twin brothers born in 1857 to a Mr & Mrs Henry Fox from the village of Symonds Green near Stevenage in Hertfordshire.Named Albert Ebenezer and Ebenezer Albert after the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Albert Street,Stevenage,they decided at a young age that working their father's small farm was not for them.

They both became crack shots at shooting game in the pitch dark and in the course of their careers they were arrested no less than 150 times,but did not receive their first conviction until 1904 with the advent of finger printing.

How may you ask did they manage to get away with poaching for so long?Their secret lay in never going out together.

One would always be propping up the bar in The Marquis of Lorne,never letting on to the assembled company whether it was Albert or Ebenezer!

They became so notorious they often made national news and indeed an item on their exploits even appeared in The New York Times issue of 9th February 1913.

Both retiring they lived to a healthy old age,one dying in 1926 and the other in 1935.Today they are considered local folk heroes,but at the time the local landowners tried every means possible to catch them and were infuriated that the law could do nothing since it couldn't prove which brother had been arrested!

Sadly today,the World is lacking in such characters.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting story.

    As a Charles Dickens fan, I've read how many of the poor people poached just so they could have food.